• Published 4th Aug 2015
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Sunset's Little Twilight - PoisonClaw



An accident with the Mirror Portal ends up with Twilight stuck as a small pony in the Equestra Girls' world. Her friends can't get over how cute she is.

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Sesquipedalian

“Y’all have really done it this time…”

Rainbow Dash and Rarity stood awkwardly behind Applejack, the pair looking thoroughly ashamed as the group stood in front of Applejack’s home. It wasn’t hard to see why either, as the presence of a new soccer ball-sized hole in the front window proved remarkably hard to miss. Surveying the damage, Twilight hovered in front of the window, sticking her head through the gaping hole as the others stood back to watch.

Taking a deep breath, followed by another for good measure, Applejack turned around to face Rainbow Dash and Rarity, looking all the while like she was visibly restraining herself from tearing into them. “… Well? Y’all got anything to say for yerselves?”

Swallowing the lump in her throat, Rainbow nervously chuckled. “Uh… I’m going to go out on a limb and say ‘Sorry’ isn’t going to cut it this time, is it?”

Crossing her arms over her chest, Applejack’s gaze bore into Rainbow Dash, making her wilt under its intensity. “It’d be a start, but ’sorry’ ain’t gonna go about fixin’ my window.”

“Applejack, dear,” Rarity began, doing her best to be as diplomatic as possible lest she end up on the receiving end of Applejack’s fury next. “I feel I speak for the both of us when I say we did not intend for this to happen, and I promise you that we’ll do all we can to pay for a new window.” Glancing at her unintentional accomplice, she put her hand on Rainbow’s shoulder and asked, “Isn’t that right, Rainbow?”

“Y-yeah, what Rarity said,” Rainbow stammered, slapping on her best reassuring smile. “I’m sure I could convince my folks to give me an advance on my allowance for something like this. We’ll have a new window before you know it, no sweat!”

“Besides…” Surprisingly, it was Fluttershy who spoke up in their defense. “It was an accident. I know you’re mad, Applejack, but it’s not fair to take your anger out on them over an accident, is it?

Applejack regarded Fluttershy with the same icy stare she’d given Rarity and Rainbow. Just when it looked like she might shift her rage onto Fluttershy, her features noticeably relaxed, and her anger seemingly subsided. “I know that, Shy, it’s just…” Loudly sighing, Applejack’s shoulders sagged as she ran her hand down her face. “Just what do ya suppose I do about it, then? When Granny gets back from her Bingo Night and sees this, she’s going to have my hide for sure. I’ll be lucky if I’m off the hook by the time I graduate. I mean, it’s not like I can just make a new window up and appear with a snap of my fingers!”

“Maybe I can, though.” Everyone turned at the sound of Twilight’s voice, watching as she pulled her head back from the window with a piece of glass held aloft in her magic. Glancing back and forth between the shard and the window, she licked her lips as she began running numbers through her head. If I account for my reduced size, plus my unfamiliarity with this world’s magic, while also factoring in the scale of the window… Maybe, just maybe…

“What ya thinkin’, Twi?” Applejack asked when she heard the tell-tale ‘hmm…’ emanate from the mare, a sure sign that she was deep in thought. “Got a plan?”

“Perhaps…” Turning the shard of glass over in her magic, Twilight ran the variables through her head again, coming up with the same answer as before. “I can’t promise it’ll work,” she said as she turned herself around to face her friends, doing her best to mask the hint of uncertainty no doubt on her face, “but if we can find as many pieces of the window as possible, I might be able to fix it.”

Applejack’s sudden beaming smile could have been used to blind oncoming traffic. “Ya for real? No lie?”

Glancing back at the glass shard, Twilight could just barely make out her reflection staring back at her. “Yes, I’m sure of it.”

“Well then, what’re we all just standin’ around for?” Everyone snapped to attention when Applejack turned to address them. “Y'all heard the girl, we’ve got a broken window to fix!”

***

Sometime later, Applejack dropped yet another glass shard into the pile. “Well, I’d say that’s all of ’em. Least, all of ‘em we could find anyway. I just know I’m gonna end up steppin’ on a piece or ‘nother when I least expect it, just ya watch.”

Standing in Applejack’s living room, Twilight regarded the collection of pieces laid out before her that they had managed to scrounge together. While they had been searching, she had also taken the time to shed the ridiculous outfit she had been wearing, if only so that it didn’t distract her during all this.

Taking a moment to arrange the shards like pieces to a jigsaw puzzle, the shards of glass now vaguely resembled the missing part of the window, though there were still noticeable gaps for pieces they had either been unable to find or that had likely shattered to a size no bigger than a bead of sand. Twilight was already starting to worry that this wouldn’t be as clean a restoration as she’d hoped, a worry that Applejack was quick to pick up on when Twilight was slow to respond.

“Ya… can still fix it, can’t ya, Twi?” Applejack pleaded, looking back and forth between the pile of glass and the shattered window.

“Well… it’s not as many as I would have liked, but it’ll have to do.” Twilight said, trying to sound as reassuring as she could. “Besides, no point in giving up without at least trying.”

Lighting up her horn, the glass shards gradually became enveloped in the violet glow of Twilight’s magic, lifting up into the air as one mass before floating over to the broken window. A bead of sweat rolled down Twilight’s brow as she carefully maneuvered the pieces into place.

“All right, now for the hard part. Fingers crossed!” Focusing, Twilight increased the magic channelling into her horn as she began weaving another spell on top of the first, the light emanating from her horn increasing in intensity.

With bated breath, everyone watched with amazement as the pieces seemed to fuse with the window as a whole, before the cracks steadily began to recede inward before their very eyes. Within seconds, the hole had shrunk to a quarter of its original size as more and more pieces shifted into place.

“It’s workin’!” Applejack cheered as she watched the window magically repair itself. “Keep this up and it’ll look good as new in no—”

An unexpected shockwave of magical energy washed over the room, causing everyone’s skin to tingle and involuntarily step back at the sheer magical pressure radiating off of Twilight. Twilight herself seemed to be struggling under the strain of the spell, her magical glow having gone from a pleasant light to a blinding beacon atop her head, her hooves digging grooves into the carpet as she struggled to keep her footing, grimacing as sweat dripped down her face.

“Twilight! That’s enough!” Sunset shouted as the magical pressure hung like a dense fog over the room. “You can stop now!”

“Not yet!” Twilight hissed through clenched teeth, eyes squeezed shut as she felt her magic pour into the window. “Just… a… little… more!” With one final burst, Twilight channelled a bolt of magic into the window, the aura of magic around the window almost glowing in brightness to match Twilight’s.

Then, just a quickly as it had started, it ended. Like a candle being blown out, the blinding aura around both the window and Twilight’s horn blinked out, the magical pressure dispersing with it. The deafening silence was almost suffocating as everyone came to grips with what had just transpired, the only sound being Twilight’s panting breaths as she stood on shaking hooves, her horn spitting out sparks from time to time.

“Twilight?” Pinkie Pie cautiously asked as she and Fluttershy poked their heads up from behind the couch they had been hiding behind. “You okay?”

“I’m… fine. Just… need… to… catch… my breath.” Taking in several gasping breaths, her knees trembled briefly before her legs collapsed out from under her and she flopped onto the living room floor, moaning at the unwanted throbbing pain behind her horn. “Ugh… I think I gave myself a headache…”

“That was one wicked lightshow, though.” Rainbow Dash remarked, ignoring the fact that her knees were shaking. “I mean, I always figured you were packing some serious power, but actually seeing it in action is a whole other story.”

“I must agree. That certainly was a spectacle to behold.” Rarity said, doing her hardest to keep her tone as level as possible, lest she betray the hint of fear that had yet to fade. Glancing out of the corner of her eye, she smiled as she pointed towards the window. “And it looks like your efforts were not in vain.”

True to Rarity’s word, Twilight had succeeded in repairing the gaping hole in the window, returning it to its previous unbroken state. However, despite the power she had pumped into the spell, a noticeable crack was still running down the left side of the window, marring its otherwise pristine surface.

Walking up to the window, Applejack cautiously tapped her finger against the glass, half expecting it to shatter under even the slightest force. When it didn’t, Applejack couldn’t have been happier, positively beaming as she spun around and looked down at Twilight. “Yer a real life-saver, Twi. Reckon I owe ya something fierce after this.”

Even as tired as she was, Twilight still found the strength to smile and shake her head. “It was nothing, Applejack. I’m just sorry I couldn’t fix it completely.”

Applejack shook her head at the mare’s humility, still unsure if she found it endearing or infuriating. “Well, if’n yer gonna be like that, then the least I could do is offer ya some grub. After a display like that, y’all must be starving.”

Right on cue, Twilight’s stomach growled like a starved beast.

“I thought so.” Already making her way towards the kitchen, Applejack didn’t so much as break stride as she hollered over shoulder, “Come on, y’all! Time I treated ya to some good old fashion Apple family style food!”

The word “food” might as well have been music to Rainbow’s ears. “Sweet! Come on Shy, let’s get ourselves something to eat!”

Fluttershy had but seconds to react before Rainbow Dash grabbed her by the arm and all but dragged her towards the kitchen, Rarity chiding Dash the whole way as she tailed behind them, while Pinkie Pie skipped along as well.

As everyone headed off to the kitchen with the promise of food, Sunset momentarily stayed behind, crouching down next to the still prone Twilight. “Need some help?”

“No, you go on ahead. I’ll catch up.” Grunting, Twilight attempted to pull herself up onto her hooves, her legs shaking as she feverishly flapped her wings to try and get some lift. Though a good effort, it ultimately turned out to be a futile attempt as she dropped back onto the floor with a dull thump.

“You were saying?”

“I… I think I might have overdone it a bit.” With a resigned sigh, Twilight looked up at Sunset while blushing with embarrassment. “Um… Sunset? Would you mind… carrying me to the kitchen? Please?”

Without a word, Sunset reached down and scooped the exhausted Twilight into her arms before standing up and following after her friends. As she did this, she glanced down at Twilight and asked, “Correct me if I’m wrong, but that was a variation on Starswirl’s beaker repair spell, wasn’t it?”

Twilight nodded. “Starswirl intended for it to be a quick fix if he ever dropped a test tube or two, but the spell is vague enough that it can be tweaked to adhere to a variety of glass structures. Still, I’m lucky it worked as well as it did.

“Even factoring in the size of the window, the energy output is generally small enough that I can effectively cast it without much of a thought, but trying to fix a window several times my size with magic I’m only just starting to get used to didn’t do me any favours.” Her horn spat out a few more sparks as she sunk into Sunset’s arms. “I feel like I just tried to fix an entire room full of windows in the castle.”

“Your castle or Canterlot castle?”

“Both.”

***

“So, there we were, running for our lives from this enormous hydra that had just emerged from the swamp.” Twilight briefly paused from telling her tale to take another bite of her third slice of apple pie. “I guess to it, four ponies and a baby dragon must have looked like a nice afternoon snack.”

“Oh dear, I can’t imagine how terrifying that must have been for you,” Rarity remarked, taking a moment to glance at the selection of lettered tiles in front of her. After a more than filling meal courtesy of Applejack, the group had settled down to unwind from the hard day’s work, with Twilight, Fluttershy, Rarity and Sunset currently competing in a game of Scrabble on one end of the kitchen table while Rainbow Dash, Applejack and Pinkie occupied themselves with a card game at the other end, equally as engrossed with Twilight’s story of one of her adventures.

“Got any eights, AJ?” Pinkie asked.

“Go fish.” While Pinkie drew a card, Applejack glanced over her at Twilight. “Now don’t go keepin’ us in suspense! What happened next?”

Stuffing the rest of her pie piece in her mouth, Twilight took a moment to chew and swallow before continuing. “Well, we eventually managed to put some distance between it and us, but we were stopped dead in our tracks by a deep gap cutting through the swamp, bridged only by a row of precarious rocky columns barely wide enough for us to cross one at a time. Remember, I didn’t have wings at the time, and the only other pony there who could fly tends to get wing locked under stress.”

While Twilight told her story, Rarity took a moment to select a few of her tiles to form salon, connecting to Twilight’s previously played hydra, which was not only the second highest scoring word on the board so far next to Fluttershy’s antlion, but had also been the catalyst for Twilight’s story about her encounter with the very beast.

“With the hydra right behind us, I knew I needed to come up with some way to distract it in order to buy the others enough time to get across. So I asked myself, ‘What would a brave pony like Rainbow Dash do?’”

“Smart thinking,” Rainbow Dash remarked without a hint of humility in her voice. “After all, if the pony me is anywhere near as awesome as I am, then I’m guessing that means you got right up in its face and showed it who’s boss, right?

“Actually… I charged right at it while screaming at the top of my lungs.”

Applejack snorted with laughter. “Yep, that sounds like the sorta’ bull-headed thing Dash would do!”

Rainbow Dash slammed her cards down and glared at Applejack indignantly. “Hey!”

“It worked though!” Twilight quickly shouted before the two could contemplate coming to blows. “The hydra certainly wasn’t expecting me to come running at it like that and ended up tripping over itself when it tried to make a grab for me. Once the others had made it safely across, I ran to follow them, but by then the hydra had recovered and wasn’t too happy with me. I barely managed to get out of the way when it made another lunge at me, but in doing so its head smashed against the edge of the cliff, knocking off a chunk of it along with the first two columns.

“With the path destroyed, I had no choice but to… wait.” Twilight paused as she looked down at the board. “Is it my turn?”

“It is, dear,” Rarity replied, “Though I do admit I was too entranced with your story to want to interrupt you to mention it.”

“Oh. Give me a second then…” After considering her tiles for a moment, Twilight carefully levitated a few of them over, forming the word around. “There we go. Now, where was I?”

“You were saying about how the hydra had just destroyed your only way across,” Sunset reminded her while Fluttershy took her turn, spelling out nest by connecting the S to the end of orange already in play.

“Ah, yes. With half the columns now nothing but rubble and a sizable gap between me and safety, I had no choice but to finally take Pinkie’s advice and take a leap of faith. I admit I was still a bit apprehensive about the whole thing, but considering the alternative was to end up as hydra food, I was far better off taking my chances with a leap of faith and jumped.

“And… I fell short.”

Fluttershy, Rarity and Pinkie Pie all gasped at once. “Oh my…” Fluttershy said, holding her hand over her mouth.

“What then, Twilight?” Pinkie Pie inquired. “Did you make it? Did you? Did you?”

“Pinkie, if she didn’t, then she wouldn’t still be here to tell us the story, now would she?” Rainbow Dash pointed out, wincing as she added, “Although, that must have been one wickedly painful belly flop!”

“Actually, here’s the part where it gets silly,” Twilight said, “As luck would have it, a bubble rose up from the surface of the swamp right below me. So when I missed the platform, I dropped down and landed right on top of it, cushioning my fall and bouncing me up…” Twilight waved her hoof to indicate her trajectory, “…right onto the first pillar, where I bounced to the second, before bouncing up and over and rolling to a stop on the other side.”

Pinkie Pie’s eyes widened in amazement. “Wow… Did you at least stick the landing?”

“Afraid not, Pinkie.” Twilight replied, chuckling.

“If’n it were anyone else but ya, Twi, I would have believed ya were trying to pull a fast one on us. With luck like that, I’d say there may just be somethin’ to the old superstition of a lucky horseshoe. Or four,” Applejack said. “Still, I’m amazed y'all came out of that without a trip to the hospital.”

“Ponies are a lot more durable than we look, Applejack. Plus, I’d already had a piano dropped on my head that day, among other things, so compared to that, this was nothing.”

Applejack opened her mouth as if to reply, but quickly closed it again before shaking her head. “Better I just take yer word for it.” Focusing back on the cards in her hand, she asked, “Pinkie Pie, got any threes on ya?”

“Yep!”

“Oh, that reminds me,” Rarity said, glancing over at Sunset to see her closely scrutinizing her tiles. “Sunset, I do believe it’s your turn now.”

“Just a minute, I’m thinking.” Taking in the words already in play, Sunset cycled through her options given her current selection of letters available. She briefly considered going with ichor, but that wouldn’t have been worth nearly enough points to make a difference. Liquorice was also out without trading in a few tiles and hoping for the best. Noticing a triple word space next to the word nest, she began to consider how to make use of it. Let’s see… chin, maybe? Cling? Corn?

Corn… wait a second…

Blinking in disbelief, Sunset double-checked her tiles before quickly counting the spaces between the words around and nest already on the board, not believing at first what she was seeing. After staring at the board a moment longer, she looked down at her letters again, then back up at the board, then at Twilight, who stared back at her in confusion.

“What?” Twilight asked, “Do I have something on my face?”

Oh, this is just too perfect. Grinning the whole time, Sunset grabbed her tiles and aligned them between the A in around and the N in nest. “A-L-I-C-O-R-N. Alicorn.”

Rarity puzzled over the word for a moment, unsure of its meaning. “Alicorn?”

Still smirking, Sunset pointed at Twilight. “Alicorn.”

Recalling that Twilight had referred to herself as such the day before, Rarity simply shrugged her shoulders. “I suppose I can’t very well argue with that then, can I? Let’s see… nine points, ten for the double letter on the ‘L’, plus the triple word score… comes out to thirty points. I say, that puts you in the lead, Sunset.”

Setting the pad aside, Rarity once more regarded her own set of tiles, though with a frown on her face at her selection. “Which is more than I can say. My word, I have just been having the worst luck thus far.” Sighing, she picked up a few of her tiles and placed them on the board, forming the word tile off of the T in nest. “I suppose this is the best I can do, if only to get some better options. Even with the double word, that’s still only worth eight points.”

Rarity barely had time to mark her own points down before Twilight levitated a string of letters onto the board. “Quill, with the blank as the extra L. Let’s see, ignoring the blank and adding in that double word square, that comes out to twenty-six points.”

Rarity begrudgingly added the new points to Twilight’s score. Calm down, Rarity, it’s only a game, no need to get worked up. “Fluttershy, it’s your… turn?”

Rarity wasn’t sure if Fluttershy even heard her, staring wide-eyed at the lettered tiles in front of her. She seemed oblivious to the world around her, her trembling lips creased into a frown and the pinkish hue of a blush beginning to color her cheeks.

“Um… Fluttershy?” Concerned, Rarity reached out and lightly tapped Fluttershy on the shoulder.

“Eeep!” Fluttershy flinched like she’d just been shocked, frantically glancing around the room to see everyone now worriedly staring at her. “Oh! Um… I’m sorry… did you say something, Rarity?”

“I… I was just…” Rarity briefly found herself at a loss for words, still taken aback by Fluttershy’s reaction. Pulling her hand back, she took a moment to collect herself before saying, “It’s your turn, Fluttershy.”

“Oh, yes. Right…” Looking down, Fluttershy reached for her tiles. Just when it looked like she was going to pick them up, she stopped, biting her lip as she drew her hand back, clutching it to her chest. “I… I don’t know…”

“What’s wrong, Shy?” Rainbow Dash asked as she set another matching pair down in front of her. “You stumped or something?

“N-no… I have a word in mind.” Nervously playing with a lock of her hair, Fluttershy seemed even more reluctant than usual to talk. “It’s… it’s just… I’m not sure if it’s… appropriate.”

“What, like a naughty word?” Pinkie suggested. “Like something you’d only hear in one of those movies they keep in the back of the video store?”

“N-n-no!” Fluttershy quickly stammered, her blush only deepening further. “It’s nothing like that!”

“Okay, now I really want to know what it is.” Rainbow said, leaning to look a Fluttershy from across the table. “Just play it already and I’ll be the judge on whether it’s ‘appropriate’ or not.”

“Al-alright…” Gingerly, she picked up her tiles one by one and transferred them onto the board; slowly forming the word she had been so apprehensive about making.

“S-H-I-P-P-I-N-G,” Rainbow Dash read aloud, raising an eyebrow at the seemingly innocuous word. “Shipping? That’s it?”

Fluttershy slowly nodded her head, hiding her blushing face behind her hair.

“That… that’s it? That’s seriously it?” Rainbow repeated incredulously. “Geeze, with how much you were building it up, I was expecting something actually bad. I mean, what’s the big deal about delivering a package?”

“Yes!” Fluttershy suddenly shouted, startling everyone when she leapt to her feet, an increasingly unsettling look on her face. “Package shipping! That’s exactly what I meant! I mean, it’s not like any other meaning exists, right? Right?”

A heavy silence hung in the air as everyone stared at Fluttershy, accompanied by an overwhelming feeling of unease and a loss of what to say in response. Pushing her chair back, Rainbow Dash stood up and walked around the table until she was standing next to Fluttershy, firmly putting her hand on Fluttershy’s shoulder to get her attention. When Fluttershy turned her head, she was met with an impassive stare from Rainbow in return.

“Shy, you’re scaring everyone. Could you tone it back a few notches, please?”

“Oh.” The maddening look in Fluttershy’s eyes vanished as she glanced around the room at the unnerved looks on her friends’ faces. “… Sorry.” Sitting back down, Fluttershy folded her hands in her lap and bowed her head to hide her still blushing face.

While Rainbow returned to her seat and Fluttershy tried desperately to sink into hers, Rarity took the chance to add up her points for her. “Okay… with two double letter squares, that comes out to twenty points. Along with the fifty-point bonus for using all your tiles, that adds up to… oh my. That puts you in the lead by a good margin, Fluttershy. Catching up to you won’t be an easy task, I’m sure.”

As the game progressed, Rarity couldn’t have been more right. Even when she managed to come from behind with an impressive fifty-seven-point jump thanks to a triple scored quake, catching up to Fluttershy’s early lead slipped further and further out of reach as the number of available tiles dwindled more and more and everyone began struggling to come up with anything longer than a three letter word.

Several rounds later, Twilight found herself in the unfavourable position of having been dealt the Z tile, which appropriately had been one of the last tiles left in the bag. Her tail irritably wagged behind her as she struggled to put it to use when she only had four letters left to work with, scrunching up her muzzle in deep concentration.

Shuffling the deck of cards, Applejack paused as she glanced over at the mare. “Twilight, y'all been staring at them letters for near five minutes now. If’n it ain’t come to ya yet, I doubt an answer’s gonna just pop out of the blue and—“

“Aha! I know!” With a happy grin on her face, Twilight levitated over two of her tiles and connected them to the X already on the board.

Rainbow Dash peered over at the word Twilight had managed to make. “Zax? C’mon, Twi, there’s no way that’s a real word.”

“You’d think so,” Applejack remarked, “but you’d be wrong. I should know, I had to use one when we fixed the barn roof last year.”

“Well, time to look it up then!” Pulling out her phone, Dash scowled as her phone struggled to connect. “Geeze, hurry up already! Anyone ever tell you that you get garbage reception out here, Applejack?”

“Just ya, Dash, Many, many times.”

After several seemingly agonizing seconds, Rainbow’s phone managed to get a signal. Opening up a web browser, she typed in the word into the search bar and waited for the page to load. She wasn’t expecting it when she actually got a hit. “… Huh. ‘Zax: a tool used for cutting and dressing roofing slates.’”

“See, Dash? It’s a valid word and worth a good nineteen po—” Twilight stopped mid-sentence as her ears perked up, swivelling in the direction of a sound only she could hear.

“What is it?” Sunset asked as Twilight became silent. “Hear something—”

“Hide me! Quick!” Diving under the table, Twilight made a mad dash for Rarity’s bag, yanking it open with her magic before frantically climbing inside and clamping it shut.

Rarity peered under the table as Twilight scampered into the bag. “Twilight, what in the world’s gotten into—”

The crunch of gravel underfoot and the rattling of the doorknob attracted their attention towards the front door as it swung open and Big Macintosh stepped inside. “Hey sis, any of yer friends—” Big Mac paused as he stepped into the room, noticing everyone staring at him as he entered.

“Welcome back, Mac.” Applejack greeted him, “Get everythin’ ya needed to in town?”

“Y-yep. I was just about to start unloadin’ it when I thought I’d check in on y'all first.” Big Mac continued to glance around the room, scratching his head the whole time “Huh… Could’a sworn I heard Twilight’s voice in here, but I don’t recall her comin’ with when I drove y’all up here.”

Applejack briefly caught sight of the pet carrier trembling out of the corner of her eye. “Was there something ya wanted ask us?” Applejack quickly asked, hoping to change the subject as quickly as possible.

After another quick glance around the room, Big Mac seemed to give up his search with a shake of his head. “Yep, I was wondering if any of your friends were needin’ a ride home. Don’t know if’n ya noticed how late it is.”

Turning in her seat, Applejack glanced at the clock on the kitchen wall, gasping at the time displayed. Turning again to look out the window, she was greeted to the sight of an orange sky as the sun began to dip below the horizon. “Wow, is it really that late? Shucks, guessin’ I lost track of time there.

“Tell ya what,” Applejack replied after thinking on it for a moment, “Y'all worry about unloading all the stuff from your truck while we finish our game. By the time yer done, we should have figured out what we’re doing. That sound good?”

Big Mac nodded his head at Applejack’s suggestion. “Sure, just don’t go takin’ too long now to decide. I promised I’d pick up Apple Bloom from her friend’s house in a bit, remember?”

Chuckling, Applejack replied, “I’m sure she won’t mind gettin’ to spend some more time with her friend. Don’t worry none, we won’t be too long.”

Seemingly satisfied, Big Mac turned and walked back out of the room, the slam of the front door echoing through the house moments later. Only when the sound of his footsteps faded completely did everyone look over at the still shaking pet carrier.

Twilight popped her head back out of the carrier, breathing a sigh of relief as she flew up to land back onto the table. “Phew! That was close.”

“Geeze, Twi, y’all looked like ya were gonna jump out yer skin!” Leaning back in her chair, Applejack rested her feet against the edge of the table. “Still, Mac has a point. We should really figure out about getting’ the rest of y’all home. That is, unless any of ya are plannin’ on stayin’ the night?”

Rainbow Dash shook her head. “Nah, I told my dad I’d be home tonight. He tends to panic if I’m out for longer than a day or so.”

“Same here,” was Fluttershy’s answer. “Even though I made sure all my animals would be taken care of while I was gone, they all must be worried about if I’m coming home or not.”

Pinkie’s normally exuberant attitude seemed to deflate as she replied, “Wish I could, but my folks want me and my sisters to help out at the shop tomorrow. Which is a total bummer, but I did promise them I would help, so I’m stuck I guess.”

“I think it would be pertinent if I return home as well.” Rarity said, adding, “You girls still need to pick up your things from my home, so we would need to stop at my home on the way regardless.”

Applejack nodded her head in turn as everyone gave their reasons. “Then, that just leaves ya, Sunset. What ya say, up for staying a night on the farm?”

“Hmm…” Sunset tapped her finger against her chin as she debated on whether or not to take Applejack up on her offer. “Nah, while I appreciate the offer, I think it’s about time I head back as well.” Sunset said, jokily adding, “You know, if only to make sure my apartment’s still standing.”

Twilight’s ears perked up at the mention of Sunset’s apartment. She recalled that Sunset had offered to let her stay over, and it was only now that she realised that, even after all her trips to this world, she had never once seen where Sunset lived. Plus, this could be the perfect chance for me to get to talk to her about what happened at Rarity’s.

“I’ll come too!” she quickly blurted out, prompting everyone to turn and stare at her, suddenly making Twilight just a tad self-conscious. “I mean, uh… you did say I could stay with you while I was here and I’m curious what your apartment looks like.” Her ears folded back against her head as she stared at Sunset with big, pleading eyes. “You don’t mind, do you?”

Even back when she’d been at her absolute worst, Sunset wouldn’t have been able to muster even the semblance of a resistance against such a face; to do so now would have been impossible. “I don’t mind, no. My place isn’t anything special though, so I hope you’re not expecting anything luxurious.”

“That’s fine. I did used to live in a library, so I don’t mind one… one…” Unconsciously tilting her head back, Twilight was unable to stop herself as a loud yawn bubbled up and out her mouth.

“Aww,” Pinkie Pie cooed, “Someone’s a sleepy little pony.”

“Sorry. Using too much magic tends to also make me…” She was cut off by another loud yawn, “… sleepy.”

Snickering, Applejack reached across the table and ruffled Twilight’s mane. “I’d say that means we better hurry it up then if’n we want to leave before you go fallin’ asleep on us. If I recall, it was Fluttershy’s turn.”

Grumbling under her breath, Twilight began working on smoothing her mane back down. “Before we leave though… is there any more pie?”

***

One quick stop off at Rarity’s later, and Sunset was ready to be on her way. Unfortunately for Twilight’s sake, carrying around a pet carrier while on a motorcycle wasn’t the safest of ideas, so she had to once again needed to resort to being carried in Sunset’s backpack. Not that Twilight had seemed to mind her current arrangement, struggling to keep her eyes open just before they’d left Sweet Apple Acres.

“You alright in there, Twilight?” Sunset asked as she fired up the ignition. Listening in over the roar of the engine, the sound of light snoring was her only reply. Chuckling to herself, Sunset prepared to slip on her helmet.

“Sunset, could I speak with you for a moment?”

Sunset paused, lowering her helmet into her lap as Rarity walked up to her. “What is it, Rarity? Don’t tell me I forgot something.”

“Not that I’m aware of, no. I simply wish to give you something before we part ways for now.”

Holding out her hand, Sunset saw that Rarity was holding a folded piece of paper between her fingers, which Sunset tentatively took from her. Staring at the piece of paper, Sunset had a sneaking suspicion she knew what she would see when she opened it. “Rarity, is this…” A quick nod from Rarity confirmed her suspicions. “How did you manage to—”

“I found the time.” Rarity answered without hesitation. “I thought it would be best if I gave it to you once it was finished. Consider it also my way of apologizing for before.”

“Apologizing? Rarity, you know you don’t have to—”

“Sunset, darling.” Rarity smiled, an amused glint in her eyes and a sharpness to her words as she spoke. “I would think that after all the time we’ve known each other, you would have realized by now that when it comes to giving gifts to my friends, I am not so easily deterred.”

Realizing that she would have been better off arguing with a charging bull, Sunset tucked the piece of paper into her jacket pocket before zipping her jacket up. “Thanks, Rarity.” Slipping on her helmet and sliding down the visor, she revved the engine before giving Rarity another glance, even if Rarity couldn’t see it. “See ya tomorrow.”

“I look forward to it, and do drive safely!” Rarity called out as Sunset sped off, waving as the bike disappeared from sight.

Sunset remained firmly focused on the road as she navigated the city streets, the piece of paper in her pocket feeling more like a lead weight the whole way. It felt like an eternity before she finally pulled up into the parking lot of her apartment complex.

Overall, the complex wasn’t anything special, just a drab grey building consisting of six floors of apartments. Its location also left much to be desired, being in an area of the city without easy access to facilities like schools, shops, parks or other such thing that potential tenants tended to look for, with the nearest such building being the Laundromat a block’s walk away.

Still, rent was cheap enough and the landlord made sure to keep the place in working order and bug free, so Sunset couldn’t complain. During her first month after stepping through the portal, she’d been far more concerned with finding somewhere with four walls and a roof that she couldn’t have cared less if there were any parks within walking distance.

Pulling up to a free space, Sunset cut the engine to her bike before removing her helmet. Tucking it under her arm, she reached up and put her hand over her jacket pocket, feeling the small square of paper through the fabric. She sat there for several seconds before sighing and dismounting her bike.

After making sure to properly secure and lock up her bike, she grabbed the rest of her things from her bike before beginning her trek up the flights of stairs, not even bothering to check and see if the elevator was working. On any given day, the chances that she would find an “Out of Order” sign taped to the front was fifty-fifty. Besides, when you lived in Canterlot Palace like she had, you tended to get used to climbing stairs.

Walking down the rows of doors, Sunset didn’t so much as glance over at the door numbers once, having walked these halls hundreds of times before. Before long, she finally came to a stop outside one door inparticular. Room 417, here we are.

As she removed her room key from her pocket, Sunset couldn’t help but feel a slight sense of joy as she stood outside her apartment, the same one that had offered her sanctuary almost since the day she had crossed over into this world. Sliding the key into the lock, it produced a satisfying click as she unlocked it and pushed against the handle.

The door only jiggled slightly, jammed shut.

“Oh, for the love of… Stupid door!” Growling, she reared back and slammed her shoulder against the uncooperative door. While the door did come loose and swing open, this also served to remind her of the previous injury she’d sustained to her shoulder that very morning, wincing as pain shot down her arm.

Note to self: kick the door next time. Rubbing her bruised shoulder, she finally stepped into her apartment proper, closing and locking the door behind her.

Sunset’s backpack rustled on her back as it seemingly unzipped itself to allow a very groggy Twilight to pop her head out with a yawn. Blinking the sleep out of her eyes, she took in the room around her. “So, this is where you live?”

The apartment itself was a standard studio size, with a closet and the door to the bathroom flanking the entrance. A twin-sized bed rested against the far wall, above which a pair of windows sat that, though currently covered by curtains, were set high enough to let in a decent amount of light during the day. A nightstand stood off to the side of the bed, on which a small lamp and a digital alarm clock resided, while a half-filled bookcase occupied the other side.

To the left of the bed was a faded couch with several barely visible food stains soaked into the fabric; while on the right side of the room a desk had been pushed up against the wall, on top of which sat a desktop computer hooked to up to a monitor that was far bulkier than any Twilight had ever seen. Finally, a kitchenette took up most of the right wall facing away from the bed, which consisted of a fridge, a decent sized countertop with a sink and faucet, rows of cupboards below and above and a device that Twilight had learned was called a “microwave”, and could be used to heat food much like an oven.

“Yeah. It isn’t much, but it’s home.” Setting her backpack down on the couch, Sunset kicked off her boots before crossing the room to hang her jacket on the back of her desk chair. Making her way over to the fridge, she began rummaging around inside for a quick bite to eat. After several moments of searching, she turned to ask Twilight a question, but said question died on her tongue at the sight of Twilight rolling over onto her back on the couch and stretching her legs out.

“Comfy?” Sunset asked, only partially succeeding in suppressing her laughter at the sight of the mare flopped over like a housecat. Oh, what I wouldn’t give for a camera right now… Even Rainbow Dash wouldn’t be able to resist!

“Hm?” Perking up, Twilight turned her head slightly to the side. “I’m sorry, I didn’t hear you. What did you say?”

Rather than repeat herself, Sunset opted instead to go with her initial question. “I asked if you wanted anything to eat. I’ve got some leftovers I could heat up if you want.”

Grumbling, Twilight rubbed her belly. “No thanks… I think I ate too much pie…”

***

Carefully tip-toeing over to the couch, Sunset gently draped a spare blanket over a snoozing Twilight, a light murmur emanating from the pony as the blanket settled over her withers. Having already changed into her PJs, Sunset was ready to turn in as well, when she found her eyes drawn to her jacket still hanging on the other side of the room, and the paper still contained within.

Stealthily making her way over to her jacket, she quickly pulled out the folded piece of paper, holding it between her fingers as she sat back on her bed. At first, she just stared at the paper, as if expecting it to suddenly provide her with all the answers she could ever want. When no such thing occurred, she carefully began unfolding it, her hands trembling slightly with each fold.

Just as Sunset had suspected, it was one of Rarity’s drawings from before, specifically a finished version of her depiction of Sunset. She felt a knot form in the pit of her stomach at the very sight of her old Equestrian form, yet even still she couldn’t help but admire the level of detail Rarity had managed to convey in a single image. The previously rough lines had all been dutifully cleaned up and Rarity had even taken the time to add dabs of color. If she didn’t know any better, she might have even entertained the idea that she was looking at a photograph rather than a drawing.

And yet, the soft and caring eyes that stared back at her felt more like they were taunting her, only making the knot in her stomach tighten even more.

Growling, she hastily folded the drawing back up before reaching across her bed to yank open the top drawer of her nightstand, stashing the drawing inside before slamming it shut without consideration for the sleeping Twilight. Curling under her covers, Sunset struggled to get the image out of her head, tossing and turning for some time.

When she finally felt herself starting to drift off to sleep, she couldn’t shake one final thought from her mind:

Her eyes had never once looked like that back in Equestria.

Author's Note:

Sesquipedalian, noun: Long winded or characterized by a usage of long words

For those curious, the final score was:
Sunset - 105 Points
Twilight - 105 Points
Rarity - 109 Points
Fluttershy - 159 Points *WINNER*

Find any mistakes I missed? Feel free to point them out and I'll strive to correct them post-haste.